Saturday was a nice day for a…white wedding!

Saturday was Rachel and Scott’s wedding day!

We all piled into cars bright and early in an attempt to avoid delays due to the Illinois marathon – we made it out of town with hardly any trouble and the ride up north was uneventful:

The ceremony was lovely – Rachel looked beautiful, Scott looked handsome, and they both looked so happy together! I managed to not cry, but I did well up a bit, I’ll admit it. They’re so happy, they’re blurry! ๐Ÿ˜‰

After the ceremony, it was so gorgeous out, that while the wedding party went to take their photos, we decided to take some photos ourselves since we all clean up so well:

Then it was off to the reception! The hall was beautiful, the food was delicious (and HUGE portions – seriously, I think we got an entire salmon each!), the signature cocktails tasty (the Brito Mojito and the Scott Spritzer), and the dancing copious! I did miss the bouquet toss which I was super bummed about – I’d told Rachel to send it my way – but I was so hot that I’d stepped out for some fresh air and when I came back inside, it was over. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ But it was still super fun and we were all excited to celebrate the start of Rachel and Scott’s married life together!

Congratulations, Rachel and Scott – we’re all so happy for the both of you! ๐Ÿ˜€

 

 

We did it!

Tonight was the Illinois Marathon 5K which my mom and I ran in and we set our personal best record! We ran the whole way, too, which is not new for Mom, but is new for me – I’m so proud of myself! Our official time was 36:21 which comes to an 11:42/mile pace – considering our goal was a 12-minute mile, we’re thrilled!

There were just over 6,000 runners and walkers in the 5K and we both found that to be helpful in pushing our pace – we were constantly overtaking people here and there and the weaving in and out of the crowd sort of acted as a distraction to the running. There were also quite a few spectators out to cheer us all on which was an added boost! And finishing inside Memorial Stadium was great fun, too – lots of cheering as everyone entered the stadium and bright lights to bring us on home to the finish line. We both had a wonderful time and are looking forward to next year’s race already!

Happy tippy-tappy toes!

Liz and I had our second tap showcase tonight! Our class this session was much bigger than last time – we ended up with 10 people! But that meant that a little bit of the pressure was off with 9 other people for the audience to look at. We danced to Ain’t Misbehavin’ and it went really well – we all stayed together, which I think is very impressive for 10 beginning dancers. Enjoy!

We’re doing the summer tap workshop, but there won’t be a showcase for that one, so this will have to hold you over until the fall!

Ferocity and flowers!

Our tap teacher gave us each Impatiens to celebrate our spring tap showcase! Not knowing whether or not they were poisonous, but knowing that either way the kitties shouldn’t eat them, I took them to work to add to Planty’s basket. The dinosaur who lives there now has a little more greenery to skulk in.

Birthday time!

Drew’s birthday was on Sunday and he wanted to have a party to celebrate, so we invited friends over and got busy in the kitchen! Drew put together a tasty, tasty taco bar with fillings for three different tacos (pulled pork, shrimp, and tofu with greens), three different salsas (a mild roasted tomatillo salsa, a medium roasted tomato salsa, and a skull-and-cross-bones mango habanero salsa), and lots of toppings (queso fresco, lime wedges, red onions soaked in sour orange juice).

And I forgot to take pictures.

I’m so bummed that I did that because the kitchen looked gorgeous and the tacos were a big hit! We had some leftovers (though not as much as I originally thought we did), so I can also attest to the fact that the shrimp filling is very good over greens and Drew has been eating the pulled pork over greens with a balsamic-mango-habanero dressing.

The cake was my job and since red velvet cake is Drew’s favorite, I made this Lincoln’s Red Velvet (Cheesecake) Cake which was also a big hit! I have a picture of the outside of it, but forgot to snap a pic once I sliced into it, but it turned out very well, if I do say so myself.

You’d think a cake with a layer of cheesecake in it would be super rich, but it really wasn’t – the cheesecake was surprisingly light and the red velvet is less sweet (and far less chocolatey) than I was expecting it to be. Even the cream cheese frosting wasn’t overwhelming!

Drew managed to get rid of most of the leftover cake the next day at school, but I’m still picking away at the remaining cake tops that I had after leveling the cakes. Yum!

Even good enough for first-run salmon!

After we finished the Salmon and Guacamole Sandwiches, we still had a TON of salmon left over, so after a quick search, I turned up Emeril’s recipe for Smoked Salmon Hash with Sunny Side Up Eggs. I didn’t use smoked salmon (I just flaked what I had instead) and I didn’t deep-fry the potatoes (just sauteed them in a little bit of olive oil with salt and pepper) and I certainly didn’t use bacon fat to cook my eggs in (I fried them dry in a nonstick pan), but it was still pretty darn good!

(Even though I overcooked the eggs a teensy bit – they looked like they were going to have lovely runny yolks, but they were closer to soft boiled on top with a little bit of hard boiled on the bottom. Oh, well!)

Holy cats, this is good!

When Jillian came over to watch TV on Saturday, we watched a couple of episodes of Barefoot Contessa where Ina and Jeffrey were off gallivanting around Napa Valley. Now, along with a fairly smarmy appearance by Michael Chiarello, the highlight of the episode was this gorgeous Salmon and Guacamole Sandwich. Jillian and I were glued to the television and I knew I had to make them for dinner this week.

The first time around, I turned out to be out of fake bacon and ended up over-toasting the ciabatta rolls. It was still tasty, but the second time around, with the fake bacon to add a salty, smoky crunch and the perfectly toasted ciabatta rolls making it a little easier to eat it was definitely a homerun!

Ina’s method of cooking the salmon worked perfectly each time – 2 minutes on each side and then 2 minutes in a 400-degree oven, followed by a 10-minute rest to let the juices redistribute (something I didn’t know fish needed) – and is totally my go-to method from now on. Yuuuuuuum! (Oh, but do not fall for Ina’s 6-ounce fillet rubbish – 4 ounces should be fine – we have a LOT of leftover salmon to deal with – my life is so hard! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Josephine goes for walkies!

She still hasn’t summoned enough courage to venture down the stairs, but she often makes quite the fuss about wanting to go out, so we strap her into her harness, put on her leash, and let her explore the hallway to her heart’s content. Her adventures don’t often last very long – by the time I’d gotten my camera, she was already trying to lead Drew back into the apartment (sorry about the blurry photo – I’ll try again next time!):

Also, I can’t quite figure out what’s going on with the perspective in this photo, but Drew is not that tall and the door is not so hobbit-sized…

Quiche!

I’ll admit that I’m not usually a huge fan of quiche, but I decided to make an exception for this recipe because I *am* a fan of goat cheese and sweet potatoes – and I’m glad I did because this was one tasty Goat Cheese and Sweet Potato Quiche!

It takes time to make – you have to roast the sweet potatoes and onions for 20 minutes before you bake the quiche for 45-55 minutes – so definitely plan ahead. And don’t, like I did, get distracted cleaning the bathroom and let the slices of sweet potato to be used for decoration burn to a black crisp – otherwise, everything went smoothly! The crust is also a lovely surprise – none of this chilling the butter and rolling things out, you just mix everything together into a lovely soft dough and then press it into the pie plate and voila! A nice, flaky quiche crust.

Jillian happened to be over catching up on TV (Parks and Rec and Happy Endings with a side trip into some Barefoot Contessa and an introduction to the train wreck that is Bitchin’ Kitchen) and both she and Drew approved of the quiche as well!

Ran a 5K with my mom…what, that’s totally my mom!

Mom and I were supposed to run in the Race the Roof 5K to support Habitat for Humanity this morning, but she called about 45 minutes before the race and said that Dad had come down with a stomach bug and she needed to stay home and look after him. I asked Drew if he felt like running a 5K with me, but he wasn’t sure his knee would put up with that kind of activity. So I texted Jillian to see if she wanted to run a 5K with me – and, more importantly, promised there would be pancakes afterwards if she did.

It worked!

I wasn’t sure if it would be a problem that a different person was going to take my mom’s spot in the run and at first I was just going to have Jillian pretend to be Laurie but I quickly realized that there was no way they were going to believe that Jillian was my 60-year-old mother… It ended up being no big deal – I explained what had happened when we checked in and they said “Oh, no problem!”

Jillian is a seasoned distance runner – she ran the Columbus marathon! – and a 5K is just a warm-up run for her, but she was a good sport and went super slow to keep me company (our height difference meant that even when I took little breaks to walk, she still had to jog a little to keep up with me). We finished around 37:30 which is not very far off my goal of a 12-minute mile (even though I didn’t manage to jog the whole thing – boo!), so I felt pretty good about it!

Next 5K is in just under two weeks which means I’ll have four opportunities to actually jog an entire 5K in the run up to it (no pun intended). Fingers crossed this will be the one!

Falafel!

I love falafel, but my aversion to frying keeps me from making it. But then I stumbled across this fabulous recipe for Falafel Salad with Tahini Dill Dressing where the falafel is…baked! And it’s a good one. And so easy, too. Plop everything into the food processor, whir, bake, and voila!

I ended up with about 18 falafels so I froze what we didn’t eat right away – we already had one round of leftovers from the freezer and it seems to have worked just fine. Definitely a tasty thing to keep around the kitchen!

5K nails!

Mom and I are running in the Race the Roof 5K tomorrow to benefit Habitat for Humanity – it’s a little annoying to pay people to run, but knowing the money is going to a good cause makes it okay. In anticipation, I decided to paint my nails a festive, sparkly orange – a color I haven’t used in a long time (I bought it to wear to the basketball game Drew and I went to over a year ago to support the Illini). I paired it with a light coat of coppery glitter to ease the brightness of the orange and I think it turned out really pretty!

That’s Sally Hansen’s Crushed and Traffic-Stopper Copper by OPI.

Dessert? What’s this dessert of which you speak?

I’m still trying to keep desserts out of the house in an attempt to lose a few more pounds, but when Drew brought home a loaf of homemade bread from a co-worker, I had no choice but to make a bread pudding with it. (Homemade bread seems to go stale a lot faster than storebought – curse you, preservatives!) The result? Blueberry Bread Pudding with Bailey’s Sauce.

And it was so good. I’ve missed dessert on a regular basis and oh, my god, this Bailey’s sauce – I just want to bathe in it! I won’t. But I want to.

Who likes mushrooms?! Lots and lots of mushrooms…

I DO, I DO! If you said the same thing, then this Mushroom and Caramelized Onion Tart is for you! I’m not actually sure why it’s considered a tart and not just a puff pastry pizza because that’s basically what it is. But who cares because it was super tasty and actually really easy to make!

After it came out of the oven, I was looking at it on the plates and could only think, “Hmm, it needs something…” So I plopped down some salad mix on top along with a little dab of dressing and it was perfect – it cut the richness of the mushrooms and the butteriness of the puff pastry. Perfect!